Aardman's Darkside

Aardman's Darkside


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

If you thought that the cuddly Hammer House homage Were-Rabbit was as twisted as Aardman Animations could get, their latest certificate 15 release will put you in the stop-motion picture. The selection of short animations has no contributions from Nick Park and is far removed from his perfected Wallace & Gromit.

Instead Darkside offers some choice episodes from a variety of digitally drawn, plasticine, acted or model animations with a motley crew of characters.

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Rex the Runt is probably the most well known. The eponymous hero is a plasticine dog who gets into some fantastical scrapes with his mates, all animated as flat-faced gingerbread cut-outs. Paul Merton, Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton have all lent their voices to the four episodes.

Angry Kid has also enjoyed some mainstream TV outings. An immature, snot-nosed, annoying git of a kid gets into short segments of trouble by not keeping his mouth shut. It can be funny and mesmerising at times as it animates a human actor with a plasticine-type moulded mask.

Although more traditionally animated, Big Jeff is a loud, brash, butt-naked Australian who goes in for surreal and darkly comic adventures, all the while letting his todger dangle in the breeze. Each of the three episodes end just when you’re thinking things can’t go on. When combined with … A Town Called Panic (also released under the name Le Grand Sommeil) is another series of surreal flights of fantasy, things really flip into the realm of blooted imaginations (well, Panic is actually Belgian). Here Cowboy, Indian and Horse, all frantically animated plastic-looking children’s toys, also get into three episodes of humorously bizarre goings-on.

There are three short films, all a bit longer than the above.

Ramble On finds a Welsh hill walker lose his bearings in more ways than one. Boxed In finds a brilliantly claymated old man receive a parcel in the post, soon leading to him contending with a problem rodent. Finally, Out Of Joint is a cartoon that sees its lead frustrated that his glasses won’t stay on his face. It’s smoothly animated in a seriously cool style to a trip hop Ninja Tunes-type soundtrack.

For animation aficionados there’s plenty here to watch and take notes from, rewind and take more notes.

For everyone else, a healthy dose of herbal is best to ease you into the right frame of mind for a Darkside marathon. Be afraid, be amused.

Reviewed on: 22 Sep 2006
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Forget your Creature Comforts - this is Aardman animation for over-15s only.
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Director: Darren Walsh, Richard Goleszowski, Stephane Aubier, Tom Parkinson, Vincent Patar

Writer: Darren Walsh, Richard Goleszowski, Stephane Aubier, Tom Parkinson, Vincent Patar

Starring: Voiced by Paul Merton, Phil Jupitus, Jonathan Ross, Paul Merton

Year: 2006

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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